A CLOSER LOOK AT HEINEKEN’S SPONSORSHIPS
Heineken is one of the largest spenders on sponsorship worldwide. Currently, the brand does enjoy a high level of awareness of its sponsorships – 58% of beer drinkers are aware of Heineken’s sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League – but is aiming to turn that awareness into pints. Of Champions League viewers, 5% have drank Heineken – and the brand would be happy with a 1% increase in that number. For context, Champions League viewership is estimated was at 180 million in 2015.
Like Anheuser-Busch, Heineken is the parent company of several brands. In addition to the flagship, Amstel, Dos Equis, and Tecate all fall under the Heineken umbrella. And all have specific targets and approaches to sponsorship. Jonnie Cahill, Heineken CMO, had this insight on the latter two brands:
“You’ll see work coming from Dos Equis in the college football space in the fall, which we’ve just seen the first cut of, and they’re really exciting.
The Tecate [brand], as well, is a big play for us. It is the authority in boxing. We [were] very excited that Canelo and GGG [fought] in Las Vegas [last weekend]. It’s the fight everybody had been waiting for—I think not only boxing fans but people all over. Tecate [was] all over that, from the perspective of our partnerships with both Golden Boy and GGG.
Other large partnerships for the beer company include Formula 1, the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and James Bond Spectre. Heineken definitely wants to be known for its big-name sponsorships, but the brand wants to do so in a way where the people see the benefit. Check out Jonnie Cahill’s summary of the brand’s partnership strategy:
Formula 1, with its intersection between drinking and driving, offers Heineken an opportunity to talk responsibility. In 2016, the brand introduced its “When You Drive, Never Drink” campaign – which featured a Formula 1 icon, Sir Jackie Stewart. The brewer has a long-standing dedication to responsible drinking, and this campaign was completely clear; how could one fail to understand the simple messaging?
“For us, the strategy is to have big iconic partnerships, as you’d expect with a premium international brand, but also to work hard on the ground—to do things that are relevant for people in their city and their town, in their neighborhood—to give content for the trade. It’s a mixed strategy for us.
Heineken also goes beyond sports – with more than just James Bond. The brewer is also a sponsor of festivals Shaky Knees, BottleRock, and the South Beach Wine & Food Festival (among others). It partnered with “The Late Late Show with James Corden” on a segment, and circles back to sport with a few tennis deals (International Tennis Hall of Fame, Memphis Open, etc).
THE WORLD’S FAVOURITE SPORT
Heineken not only sponsors soccer worldwide but activates worldwide. While Anheuser-Busch’s has a hold on FIFA, Heineken owns soccer elsewhere. As the sponsors of UEFA Champions League, the brand offered fans and guests immersive and special experiences. Many clubs participating in Champions League are worldwide brands – think Real Madrid, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain – and have fans clamoring for ways to feel closer to the club and this tournament. Heineken found a way to satisfy that desire: the brewer promoted and organized a Trophy Tour, which travelled from Brazil to Congo to Indonesia this past year. It also flew 1,200 fans from over 60 countries to watch the Champions League Final in London. The brand has buy-in from employees as well, offering them the chance to participate in an internal table football competition – where finalists travel to the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam for the global finals.
Heineken has several partners at the team or venue level in Europe as well. Team partners include Sheffield United (English Championship League), Manchester City (EPL), and West Ham United (EPL).The brewer is also the naming rights partner of Huddersfield Town FC (EPL)’s home stadium.
In the Americas, Heineken is working to partner with multiple organisations. It signed on with MLS as the Official Beer of the league in 2014; there has since been a five-year expansion. MLS teams LAFC, NYCFC, Orlando City FC, DC United, and five others are also Heineken partners. With LAFC, Heineken staked its claim to the local and domestic beer categories, player marketing rights, and a branded area in the team’s brand-new stadium when built.
Slightly further south, Heineken has also partnered with CONMEBOL Libertadores Bridgestone, a tournament featuring 47 of the best teams in the 10 member organizations of CONMEBOL. This partnership is under the Amstel brand